7 Aura locals making a difference: Jacky McDonald, Goodstart Early Learning Baringa

4 min
30 November 2023

To celebrate Stockland Aura’s 7th birthday this year, we are shining a light on the amazing locals who contribute to and make a difference in the Aura community every day. We were delighted to catch up with Jacky to find out more about her role nurturing our Aura kids to give them the best possible start in life.

What is your current role and what do you love most about your job?
I am the Centre Director at Goodstart Early Learning Baringa and have been with the team here since the centre opened in 2019. I absolutely thrive on the joy of nurturing young minds, witnessing their growth and being part of their developmental journey. I am passionate about creating a safe, caring environment where children thrive, as well as the laughter, the milestones and the impact I see we make on their lives. The first five years of a child’s life is when the brain is developing connections faster than at any other time in their life and to be part of that is very important. I also have a very large team at the centre (38) team members and I cherish the opportunity to guide, inspire and empower my team. Watching them flourish and achieve their goals both professionally and personally is very fulfilling. We have created a collaborative spirit here at the centre, full of diverse talents within the team which is something we are very proud of.

Tell us more about the community pantry initiative and the “Parcels of Peace” project you are involved in.
Part of the team spirit is very much how we can support the community we live and work in. We try to be the voice of the child in the community and speak as their advocate. With the cost of living being so high at the moment – the struggle is real and we wanted to have a safe place for the community to access food, nappies, books, clothes (a resource hub) providing essential items to those in need while fostering a spirit of generosity and compassion in the community and in our team.

Every year at Christmas, we try support a community project. Over the past four years we have given our time and effort to the 92.7 Mix FM / Coast2Bay Christmas Appeal, which has been fantastic. We felt this year that we would like to support a cause that was local to Aura by being involved with the “Parcels of Peace” project. Local ‘at-risk’ families need our support and we were excited to help Murray who is organising the initiative, by becoming a drop off zone for hamper collections. We are hoping to spread the word and fill the foyer with bags and bags of hampers.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do in your spare time / what are your passions?
It is going to sound corny but I just adore my children (who are adults now) and spend as much time with them as possible. They are all currently living with me (while their journeys to their own homes are in the works) in my dual key house and we are just one big crazy, loud family. I have a groodle called Luna – who runs the house! I adore going to the beach with her at Currimundi dog beach. That place is my happy place. If ever you are feeling low – head down there and just sit and watch them gallivant around. Family is important, and mine is a great mix of fun, strength and support. They are my proudest achievement.

What does “community” mean to you and what do you love most about the Aura community?
I am originally from Sydney, and have lived in Fiji, Brisbane, Ballarat and eventually have settled on the Sunshine Coast. Community to me is where we share a common interest and goals. We come together to support, interact and collaborate with one another. Giving our most vulnerable residents a sense of belonging and support is so important. I remember being a child and feeling that sense of belonging in my neighbourhood then and it was really special. I think in today’s society we can get so caught up on who has upset them on social media that we are at risk of losing the joy of saying “Gday” to our neighbour or checking in on our older citizens to see if they are ok.

I love the community of Aura and if I had to choose 7 words to describe life here, I would say it is welcoming, new, diverse, active, engaging, evolving and growing. I lived in the area here before it was built and have enjoyed watching the community grow. The parks, the initiatives and the friendships in the area have been awesome to see. I really like to see the tight network of individuals who come together to offer support, share experiences and foster a sense of belonging. I think Aura is becoming a place where the community can come together and I see networks of friendship circles growing. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for the area. We may never have to leave!